Psalm 69 is David’s passionate cry for divine help. He has been sinking into the mire of trouble. Some is the result of his own sin (69:5), while much of David’s difficulty stems from the evil of his opponents (69:4). Even though people laugh at him for his consistent yearning for God (69:10-12), David persists in praying to the Lord, hoping that this is a time of God’s “favor” (69:13).
This passage from Deuteronomy reminds us that God’s care for people in need comes, not only through divine intentions and divine laws, but also through the people who live according to God’s ways. His care for the vulnerable takes on human form in you and me.
Scripture teaches us to pour out our hearts to God without holding back. Prayers for personal help are modeled throughout the Psalms, God’s “textbook” for prayer. So, I am in no way suggesting that there is anything wrong with asking God to help you. In fact, failing to seek God’s help for yourself would border on arrogance, if not foolishness.
But, as we grow in our faith, as our hearts grow bigger through the presence of God’s Spirit within us, we find ourselves praying bigger prayers. We see this sort of enlargement in Psalm 67.
Psalm 66 celebrates God’s glory as it is revealed in his mighty works. This celebration is meant, not just for God’s chosen people, but also for “all the earth” (66:1).
Psalm 65 is a great psalm for Californians in this season of ample rainfall. It celebrates God’s blessings, including God’s watering the land, filling streams with water, and drenching the furrows (65:9-10). Just like California these days, “The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness” (65:12).
When I read Psalm 64, I cringe at the very first line: “O God, listen to my complaint.” I picture God flinching, getting ready to hear something he’d rather not hear. I wonder if God ever gets tired of hearing people’s complaints.
Jack Benny was a beloved American entertainer. Though in real life he was an excellent violinist and a generous man, he often played comedic roles in which he was a terrible musician and an extreme penny-pincher. One of Benny’s most famous sketches involves an attempted robbery…
Psalm 62 begins with David’s expression of confidence in God as he waits in silence for the one who is the source of his salvation (62:1). But then, after David remembers those who seek to bring him down through slanderous lies (62:3-4), his tone changes slightly. Now he speaks to himself, literally, to his own “soul” (nefesh): “Yes, my soul, find rest in God” (62:5).
Have you ever found yourself in a difficult, even hopeless situation, and desperate for God’s help? If so, then you can relate to Psalm 61. (If not, then Psalm 61 will help you when you face overwhelming challenges in the future.)
Yes, I have drunk deeply at the fount of American self-reliance. Like so many of my fellow citizens, I admire people who pull themselves up by their bootstraps and forge ahead with determination. I want to be one of those people. And I’m not alone. Most of us want to control our lives and our destinies. When we get in trouble, we expect to help ourselves out of it.